Writer: Gem Barton
Although the new Design Museum is not expected to open until 2015, it has already laid a foundation for the future of design. The museum broke ground in Kensington High Street on 18 September by installing a time capsule that will be opened in 2112.
The museum seeks to be a figurehead of design, both past and present, British and international, so it asked designers and architects to nominate the people who they see as most influential in the world of design. Those nominated chose objects that they felt represented our legacy of design. The contents of the capsule are seemingly simple, yet they are reflective of the values of our contemporary culture.
Kenneth Grange and John Pawson took the historical route, choosing classically influential designs by Arne Jacobsen (coffee pot) and Hans J. Wegner (1949 Wishbone chair), respectively.
Fashion icon Sir Paul Smith and Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic chose items that highlight the recent triumph of London: the 2012 Olympics.
Architect Cecil Balmond, perhaps making a political statement as to the temporary nature of both design and cultural trends, added the flag of the European Union, a Euro coin, a 2p stamp, and a flash drive with the music of jazz great John Coltrane. These objects are reactive to our immediate cultural needs, but their inclusion together points to the serious danger that all will be obsolete in 100 years.
Industrial designer Ingo Maurer with Thomas Heatherwick (fresh off his the amazing success of his Olympic Cauldron) made a more personal work for the capsule: a light bulb on which they scrawled “Lord, have no mercy with my assassins.”
Designer Sir Terence Conran wisely chose the iPhone, perhaps the most iconic and influential design of our time. The product has infiltrated so many aspects of our design ethos and our cultural dependence on objects like this has affected our day-to-day existence, yet in 100 years iPhones will be as archaic as a cave painting – and just as historical.
As a whole, the time capsule for the Design Museum does more than just ask us to think about how we want to be remembered, it asks us to look more critically at how objects make up who we are, why we have made them, and what they contribute to our existence. Hopefully, the time capsule is also a preview of the issues the new Design Museum will engage with when it opens its doors in 2015.